Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Reset, Reflect, Recalibrate: This is 2021

Our kitchen whiteboard keeps our
goals and progress front and center
It's 2021, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who is grateful to see a new year. A new year does not magically end a pandemic, erase all that we've experienced, or restore order in the the world. But a new year does bring with it the hope for positive change, for a brighter future.  We must hang on to hope to give us the strength to continue on after a year of hardships and loss and a country divided. It's important to acknowledge this before moving forward, before setting new year's resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. I am still processing all we've been through on a personal and national scale, and that will take a long while. With that, I felt the need to reset, reflect, and recalibrate my experiences in 2020—the tragedies, the successes, all of it. Then I asked myself what changes can I make right now to kickstart this year to give myself the self-care I need to move forward with a healthy body and mind.

10 days of detox tea and green smoothies
help restore our energy and mental clarity 
To reset, Mike and I started off the year with the 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, created by nutritionist JJ Smith (as I do every year). This cleanse really helps me reset physically, mentally, and emotionally, especially after a month of unhealthy eating and drinking for the holidays. It also helps me reset food habits; my cravings for unhealthy food goes away. And, I'm not going to lie; losing 9-10 pounds is a nice added bonus. I can fit into my clothes again. Phew! 

With my head and body clear again, I was able to reflect on the past year and revisit my goals for 2020—finding balance. I think I did a good job with that, all things considering. Being quarantined at home due to the pandemic definitely helped me prioritize my personal goals, and it really solidified how important it is to say No to things and people that distract me from said goals. It also solidified the fact that the world won't end if I set boundaries and put myself first. While the year was filled with obstacles—such as navigating a new job remotely, helping my sister plan a wedding during a pandemic, and dealing with family issues, such as my son moving home to finish college remotely and caring for my mother who underwent severe medical conditions and surgery—I'm impressed that I was able to achieve my goals of finding balance...for the most part.
Layered up on our
quiet winter walk in the woods;
(see below for what I'm wearing)

I had four specific goals: finish my novel; explore nature in greater depth; maintain a clean eating lifestyle, and find downtime, I'm proud to announce that I finished the new draft of my novel on December 20 (my personal deadline was December 21), and I focused more on exploring mountains and trails (the pandemic definitely made this goal easy as all races were canceled this year). Since Mike and I ate at home all year, we easily adopted a mostly Whole30 diet, with exceptions for holidays; and I treasured my downtime by integrating more reading, games, movies, and other leisurely activities into my weekly schedule.

We truly are happiest when we
spend time together outdoors 
(see below for what we're wearing)
So what's in store for 2021? With the pandemic still plaguing the country, social isolation and quarantine continues...303 days and counting! And that can make life at home a bit too routine and mundane. Pandemic fatigue is a real thing! It's also exhausting continuously having to advocate for why I won't visit with people indoors, especially during these cold winter months (that's a whole other post!). So my phrase for 2021 is self-care. And what steps will I take to implement self-care?
We're continuing this clean-eating reset by jumping right into Whole30 again. This time, we've made a list of recipes from the Whole30 book that are most appealing to us. We love cooking together and trying out new meals. Whole30 has become a lifestyle choice now that we've mastered how to identify clean foods, and we are super excited to try these recipes out—especially after 10 days of green smoothies as meals. Tonight's meal is Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Kale and Avocado Salad (Thank you, Primal Kitchen for this Whole30  approved recipe!)

It's been difficult to stay as active as I was before the pandemic when I was also trying to navigate life during a pandemic and all the struggles that brings. My total miles for last year was only about 550. This year I plan on stepping up my activity level now that I am better able to balance the other aspects of life that are equally important to me. 
At almost 500 pages, the draft of my 
novel is finished!

Deadlines truly help me stay accountable and achieve what I set out to achieve. Even made-up, guesstimated deadlines that I choose give me an ending to look forward to. I wrote my novel throughout 2020, I kept that December 21 personal deadline in my mind's eye. I wrote to that end date every day, even when it felt eons away. I scheduled dedicated time for my writing, set up writing chats with my critique partner, took a solo vacation to immerse myself in my project, and even joined virtual write-ins with other writers to keep me motivated and on schedule. 

Let the revisions begin! I always do
a read through before strategizing
a revision plan
With the draft of my novel finished, it's time to revise! I've signed up for an outlining class with author Lisa Papademetriou, I purchased a large Moleskine journal and a set of gel pens to storyboard my whole novel (thanks for the tip, Story Genius!), and I have a plan in place to finish revisions by June (fingers crossed). It took me some time to get back into the flow of working on my novel every day, but I'm finally back in the swing of things!

Race dates (even virtual races and activity challenges) have the same motivational affect on me as they also provide a set deadline. This year, I plan on joining more virtual races and challenges to keep me moving! Mike and I are signed up for New England Green River Marathon, which was rescheduled from 2020 to August 29 of this year (tentatively, as everything is). Having eight months to train provides a doable marathon-ready goal to achieve. We'll be able to slowly build our running stamina back up over the year. We have also planned a trip to the Grand Canyon to hike from rim to rim this fall (tentative on the state of the pandemic). So even if the race gets rescheduled once more, training for a marathon will help strengthen us for the grueling hike we're praying we can embark on this year. It also gives us something new to look forward to.

I never tire of mountain top views, especially
when I'm toasty warm in my IllumiNITE
(see below for what I'm wearing)
The winter months are the hardest to stay motivated. But we're finding ways to make these dark, cold days brighter. We drink more herbal tea (Celestial Seasonings caffeine-free Bengal Spice is my newest obsession!), we tackle various home projects so we don't stay sedentary, and we bundle up layer upon layer before venturing outside (Thank you, IllumiNITE!). Despite cold temperatures, winter isn't so terrible when the skies are blue and the air is crisp, as long as we keep our bodies warm! What's more, all the people who flocked to mountains over the warmer spring, summer, and fall months, due to the pandemic, have fled back indoors. The silence and serenity of just the two of us in nature brings me much peace after being connected to the virtual world all week for work. 

I'm gifting this IllumiNITE bike helmet
to my son to help keep him safe, 
day and night, 
while he rides his bike on his college campus

Mike and I have saved a lot of money by not going out to restaurants and other entertainment places since the pandemic shut everything down. I've truly found joy repurposing the money we've saved to support local businesses and charities. As I did last year, I will again sign up for virtual races and challenge events that donate proceeds to charities (such as the Hot Chocolate Challenge, which supports Safe Passage, an organization that helps survivors of domestic violence). It feels good to know that my entry fees help others while also helping me stay committed to my physical and mental health. Win, win! I also discovered I really find joy in giving 20% tips when I order take out. The gratitude in the voices of food service workers brings a smile to my face. And, I'm still saving so much more than staying a long while in a restaurant where I'd be ordering drinks, appetizers, you name it. This year, I'd like to take this a step further by continuing to support local businesses, such as IllumiNITE as much as I can. It isn't that difficult to find the local equivalent to major conglomerate organizations. I just purchased books for a friend who lives in North Carolina. It only took about five minutes to research local bookstores near her and another five to place my order. Local businesses need our support to keep them alive. I want to do my part to help them thrive.

Layering keeps our core temperatures just right
and our bodies bright on our neighborhood
coffee and tea dates 
(see below for what we're wearing)

Do all these goals sound wildly familiar? Sure they do! Positive change is a long-term goal taken in micro steps. I had to find balance in my life in order to take these next steps to living the clean, healthy lifestyle I'm trying to achieve. So little by little, I make tiny changes to achieve the things that are so important to me. I am responsible for my own happiness, for how I live my life. And that means including people in my life who support me and love me for who I am. I feel very blessed to have a life partner who has similar personal goals. It's so much easier to implement these positive changes together.

What are your personal goals for 2021? I'd love to hear what your plans are for this new year! 

I hope self-care is on the list. Wishing you a safe, healthy, happy and BRIGHT New Year!

Start your new year healthy and bright at IllumiNITE! Use my discount code RunBrightly15 for 15% off your order. Not sure what to wear? Check out some of my faves, as posted in this post's pics:

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